The Rest of the Story: Oregon Bioscience Association’s 2016-’17 Annual Report

If you ask Oregon Bio’s executive director Denise McCarty or the association’s director of member services and business development Julie Black how the last year happened to go by so quickly, they may not have an answer.

But with an Oregon Bioscience Association agenda that included mapping in-house processes to look for automation possibilities, creating and launching a redesigned website, implementing a new CRM system or transitioning to QuickBooks online, they will tell you this: They’re “making” time.

That creation of more time is completely in line with their goal of spending more time interacting with and serving Oregon bio members.

“When I first started at Oregon Bio, we had three full-time people and, within a year, were down to two and a half but doing more,” said Black. “Now we now have six people and the association is investing in its resources. We’re now much more proactive instead of reactive in providing our members with what they need.”

Membership at the Oregon Bioscience Association is increasing, and McCarty believes rethinking a lot of the manual processes at the organization has been the key to serving the growth. She said by taking a very close look at how the Oregon Bio staff operates, the association has been able to spend less time doing manual tasks, and more time getting in front of its members.

McCarty uses the example of the staff’s ability over the past year to reinvent once time-consuming association tasks has allowed them to more frequently meet and work closely with Oregon Bio members outside the Portland region – especially in Central Oregon and throughout the Willamette Valley.

“Knowing that 49 percent of bioscience in Oregon happens outside the Portland area, our automation and other efficiencies have allowed us to do a much better job of spending time supporting members and learning about their needs across the state,” says McCarty.

Black says the increased membership and quality interaction with statewide members over the last year has energized several Oregon Bio members to get more involved with the association. Many members have joined committees that help supercharge their networking opportunities in the industry. She said the enthusiasm for people using their memberships for power networking has never been higher.

“Our five major networking and interactive events are hugely popular and they sell out,” Black said. “You never know where the many connections will lead, and people go to the events with that in mind. You could be networking with a person who represents your next big career opportunity, or you could be just meeting your neighbors to do business with them locally. Oregon Bio will even make the personal introductions for you to specific people at events that you don’t want to miss out on adding to your network.”

Black says that Oregon Bio members and potential members still identify with the three major, time-honored benefits of the association:

  • Advocacy. “What Oregon Bio provides for our members is a second voice on both the state and federal levels of government. Members rely on that the advocacy from the organization. We even have events in Salem that allow members to meet their elected officials and tell them what their needs are for their company or for the industry. Those personal introductions and interactions mean a tremendous amount to our members.”
  • Workforce Training. “Oregon Bio’s workforce training succeeds because it is led by our industry. To be able to have that professional development piece for companies, members and beyond, companies participate on our steering committee and implement what companies need without having to create it or implement it on their own. Oregon Bio’s workforce training is industry-recognized, so it means something.”
  • Cultivation. “Meeting your fellow members or your bio neighbors, the association is the hub of communication and communications vehicles for connecting Oregon’s bio community, bringing awareness to the industry and helping grow the state’s bio landscape.”

For McCarty, Black and the entire Oregon Bio staff, the last year has flown by. But the strides they’ve made in internal efficiencies have them primed to reach their goals of delivering even bigger benefits to the association’s members and to the bio industry as a whole.

“There’s always so much more work to be done, but I think fixing some of our internal processes has allowed us to focus on so much more for our members,” McCarty says. “Over the past year, I think we’ve taken a strong step forward in getting Oregon Bio to the next level.”